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CHAPTER IV

HINDU HOLLYWOOD

LET us go to the pictures, and &ee an Indian film.

It was the first thing I did, when I was well enough to hobble
about again, and it would seem that no other Englishman has
ever had such a wild idea before.

b What are Indian films like ? * one used to ask.

w Good heavens, how should I know ?'

"But haven't you ever seen one ? *

* Seen one ?   An Indian film ?   Really !'

Blank amazement greeted the suggestion that it might be mter-
esting to see an Indian picture. And yet, the films are a living
mirror of a nation's life ; even if one did not understand everything
that the mirror showed, it would surely repay a few hours of study.

I was particularly anxious to visit the studios themselves, and
after a little wire-pulling obtained permission to witness the
shooting of a big historical picture which was being made within
a reasonable distance of Bombay. Let us make the trip together.

ii
The film star sat cross-legged on the floor of the studio, occasion-
ally dipping her spoon into a bowl of freshly sliced mangoes, iced
and glistening and golden. With a gesture of her pretty hand she
, beckoned to a coolie to move the fan nearer to her; and as he
did so its breeze stirred her hairher own fabulous hair, which
rippled far below her waist in an enchanting cascade.
It was overpoweringly hot, and as something seemed to have
gone wrong with the mike I decided to go outside for a breather.
To reach the door one had to step over about a dozen nearlv
naked coolies, who had seized the opportunity to lie down and
sleep in the dust. It wasn't at all like Hollywood in, that studio.
It was even less like Hollywood outside.
Imagine a group of shabby Edwardian houses, built of white
stucco, clustering near the main road of a Bombay suburb. DOTII